MARCH 7, 1962
ST. MORITZ, Switzerland—After the first days of sunshine and clouds here we have had two days of snow, and I must say that fresh snow is most beautiful—both as it falls and as it lies on the trees and roofs of the houses.
On the sunny days we took the funicular railway up to watch the skiers and it looks like such a graceful and easy method of progressing over the snow. We watched a class of very young ones being given their first lessons on one very gentle slope. They were all lined up and they looked like little birds of various colors. Some of them seemed to be not much older than two.
Over here when the tots can hardly walk they seem to be able to ski. And one looks with admiration at their little red, blue and white ensembles and their boots—miniature reproductions of their parents'—which they learn to unlatch from their skis. Then one watches with amusement their efforts to put their poles hard into the snow in imitation of their elders. The lesson I watched seemed to be a little like a ballet lesson. The youngsters jumped, spread their legs apart and then brought them together again, and I marvelled that such tiny ones could do so well.
The Kulm Hotel has a great many German guests, which means that prosperity must surely have returned to Germany. One also hears English spoken by both British and American guests and some French and Italian, though not so much as German.
The village street here is a series of attractive shops, with everything for skiing and, of course, many other things. Nothing, however, as far as I can see, is inexpensive in these parts.
I have time to walk and to read here—two things I have very little time for at home—and I am learning that it is wise not to let yourself reach the point of physical inactivity which I ordinarily allow myself because it makes one less able to take part in any activity when one does have the time to do so. As always, when one is away from home one reads all the news that one can find, and I am very grateful for The New York Times and New York Herald Tribune international editions.
I was sorry to read that the reception for Col. John H. Glenn in New York City was saddened by the terrible accident to a departing jet.
I hope the cause of the disaster will soon be discovered. But, just as years ago we used to have frequent railroad accidents, I suppose with every new method of rapid transportation we must expect not only only to have mechanical failures but human failures. From the early reports it looks as though in this case it might have been a mechanical failure, and that is more easily corrected than a human failure.
I am sorry for the officials of American Airlines, for I know the trouble they always take to look after their equipment and the safety of their passengers above everything else. So, I know this will have been a great blow to all those actively engaged in the management of the airline.
I have just been told that a bill has been introduced in Congress to abolish the poll tax and the literacy test in the comparatively few Southern states that still have these requirements to gain the right to vote. This would mean that not only the members of the poorer white population could vote but that the Negro vote as a whole could be registered—a thing that has been impossible in the past in some Southern states.
I hope the bill will at least be discussed in Congress, though I realize it might easily be shelved and never reach the floor. But the right to vote is a fundamental right in a democracy, and when poll taxes and literacy tests are set up to prevent this right, as they often are, something should be done to prevent local laws being used in this manner. Honest literacy tests are, I believe, a wise provision when the conditions of life in an area make it possible for the population as a whole to receive the education necessary to pass the tests required. But tests that are so rigged as to make the answers practically impossible for a Ph.D. I think are not an honest test of any individual's ability to cast an intelligent ballot.
Poll taxes, too, have long been done away with in most states and I think in a democracy should not be a hindrance to the right to use one's franchise.
Another piece of information interests me considerably. I have just been informed that Rev. R.L.T. Smith of Jackson, Miss., is running for Congress in that city, the first Negro to run for any office in Mississippi since Reconstruction days.
Is is understandable why many Southerners reacted against the abuses that were prevalent in the Reconstruction period, but it would be of great value to the South to have a man representing the interests of the colored people elected from one of the Southern states, and there is no danger at the present time of any return to the abuses of the Reconstruction period.